The Trial of Socrates (Stanzas 1 to 7)

The Trial of Socrates: A Poetic Interpretation of Plato’s Apology of Socrates (Part 1 of 12). Copyright © 2020 by Alan Steinle. All rights reserved.

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Go to the Beginning
Go to Part 2: Stanzas 8 to 14

Part 1: Socrates’ Defense

Socrates defends himself in a court of law before about 500 people, including a judge and his accusers: Meletus, Anytus, and Lycon.

[1 of 83]
Though I am old, I’ve never been
Within a court of law before;
It’s hard to win against some men,
But their false words I can’t ignore.
Though absent men began this fight,
I’ll bring their claims into the light.

[2 of 83]
“That Socrates, a wise old man,
Investigates the earth and sky;
He’ll make you godless if he can;
His flimsy reasons please don’t buy.”
Yes, many make such baseless claims
And go about destroying names.

[3 of 83]
Please disregard my humble speech—
The simple truth is what I tell;
You’ve gathered round me to impeach
My character, as you know well.
Decide if what I say is just,
For fancy words are heaps of dust.

[4 of 83]
O men of Athens, quell your shouts;
Don’t think of me as vain or proud;
Let honest words remove your doubts
As I present my case unbowed.
The god at Delphi verifies
The words I’m speaking are not lies.

[5 of 83]
You surely know Chaerepho, too;
He went to Delphi and inquired;
The priestess there reveals what’s true
And speaks the words as she’s inspired.
“Whose wisdom is unparalleled?”
“That Socrates can’t be excelled.”

[6 of 83]
What did Apollo mean by this?
The god does not speak falsely, now;
I thought that something was amiss,
For he asserts I’m wise, but how?
My wisdom isn’t great or small—
I do not think I’m wise at all!

[7 of 83]
With these strong doubts within my mind,
I looked for men reputed wise;
I sought the wisest of mankind,
And such they were in human eyes.
But questioning with little tact,
I soon found out they sorely lacked.

Go to the Beginning
Go to Part 2: Stanzas 8 to 14

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